E-commerce Mobile App Development Cost & Features

November 15, 2022

By: TucsonBizz Staff Writer  
TucsonBizz is a division of Sofvue, LLC.
Printed with permission of Data Titan, Sofvue LLC

The popularity of eCommerce cannot be ignored. One-day delivery and free shipping have changed how we buy, and thanks to the continually rising smartphone user count (and affordability) more people are using their mobile phones to shop online than ever before. In fact, according to various statistical resources, the global share of mCommerce in eCommerce has increased to 72.9%.

This forces the hand of anyone wanting to be in the eCommerce space, which drives the next logical question, what is the cost to develop and eCommerce mobile app, and how long does it take?

Why Develop an Ecommerce App?

With the rise in smartphone adoption, millions of people are buying products from their phones, and the trend simply continues to grow in popularity.  

Don’t believe us? Check out these mCommerce statistics.

✅ US retail mCommerce sales are projected to reach $430 billion in 2022 and increase to $710 billion in 2025. [Source]
✅ By 2024, there will be over 187 million active mobile phone shoppers in the US alone. [Source]
✅ Almost 80% of users have bought online using their mobile devices in the last six months.  If you don’t into this bucket, you will, and soon.

Must Have Key Features of an Ecommerce App

You’ve got a new idea for an eCommerce app and want to launch it as soon as possible. You understand that the development cost will be determined by the number of features your app requires, but what are these features? Let’s take a look at a few of the “must haves”.

#1. Mobile Payments

Mobile payments have become far more than a convenience. In 2020, digital and mobile wallets accounted for 44.5% of global eCommerce payment transactions. The number is expected to increase to 51.7% by 2024, making it the most popular payment method, even more popular that swipe payment systems.

#2. Social Media Integration

Social media integration is essential to today’s modern apps, and they can help you to better:

✅ Promote your products on social media, gaining a wider audience
✅ Create a community around your brand, where people can gather and talk about your products
✅ Understand what customers like or don't like about your products or services
✅ Learn more about what types of products your customers want

#3. User Ratings and Reviews

Truthful reviews are an important part of today’s shopping experience. This is especially true when you're buying something that isn't a necessity, like a cool Mandalorian Grilled Cheese Maker (yes, it’s a thing) or the latest Buccellati Tahiti Sterling Silver Ice Tongs, you want to make sure it's going to work as expected and will live up to its hype before plopping down $10 or $10,000. With more reviews come more interest, traffic and ultimately, sales.

#4. Push Notifications

Push notifications are messages from apps that appear on your phone’s Home Screen or Notification Center, usually as a badge. They're used to remind users about events, deals, and other sale information that can encourage them to open their app and visit your online store.

#5. AI Chatbots

Chatbots with AI capabilities can help you automate customer support. They can answer questions, provide product recommendations and track user behavior. Chatbots with AI capabilities can also engage customers in a more personal way by, over multiple shopping visits, learn more about what your customers really want, allowing the bots to create a better experience for your customers.

#6. Search and Filters

Product search is the backbone of any successful on-demand mobile app or e-commerce website, allowing users to quickly and easily find products they are looking for, increasing their overall user experience. To achieve better usability, the search bar should be located at the top of your app's home screen. When a customer initiates a search using predictive search, output should include (e.g., product names, part number, color, size). This will help users save time, improve their experience, and promote stickiness.

Filters are another must-have feature.  For example, if you're looking for a pair of jeans, the filter should include the ability to view the results based on size range, price, etc.

#7. Wish Lists

It’s amazing we don’t see wish lists on more sites, especially when they are a perfect fit for a platform. Including a “wishlist” on your app allows consumers to add products to their favorites list so they can return later for purchase. Wish lists should always be visible (near the shopping cart button or display).

#8. Segregated Delivery and Pick-Up Slots

Delivery and pick-up locations are a great way to give your eCommerce customers flexibility. Customers should be able to choose from multiple delivery options (same day,  next day, standard shipping, drone, etc.) that works with their schedule and location. Additionally, and when the company offers brick-and-mortar locations, provide the ability for pickups. This is especially useful when you have multiple locations or you need to coordinate third-party couriers, who may not be able to deliver at the exact time or location your customer expects.

#9. Delivery and Order Tracking

The app should include the ability for customers to track their order, return and refund right from the app. Shipment tracking details should be available in real-time, so customers are always informed regarding the status of their purchase, and once delivered, the mobile app should report that delivery has been completed.

#10. Security

Apple and Google won’t even look at a mobile app for approval without key security elements already included within the app’s security suite. That said, security features must include:

Encryption: This is a method of securing data in transit, meaning it's only readable by the intended recipient. The data is also unreadable to anyone who may intercept it, such as hackers or bad actors.

Two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication, or 2FA for short, adds an extra layer of security to your account by requiring not just one password but also something else that only you know (such as a fingerprint) or a one-time password (OTP), also known as a one-time PIN.

Tokenization: A process that replaces sensitive customer information with non-sensitive tokens to protect the customer from fraud and identity theft. For example, if someone were trying to steal your credit card number from a stored file on their computer, tokenization would replace the actual credit card number with a random string of characters instead.

How to Develop an Ecommerce App?

How to Develop an Ecommerce App?

Step#1 Determine Your App’s Technology

The first step to developing an on-demand mobile app for eCommerce websites is to determine which technology platform you are going to use to develop your app, and there are dozens of options; from cross-platform to native platforms. You should consider what you want the app to do, how much money you will spend on it, and what kind of functionality your customers are going to require. When done correctly, you should also consider developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), especially if you are a novel start-up.

◾ Cost: Native apps are more expensive than hybrid apps, but they offer more control over user experience and branding while allowing access to all native device features (e.g., camera, vibration). Cross-platform developed solutions tend to have a lower initial cost investment, but native tends to be better, more cost-efficient solution for the long game.

◾ Hosting: If your mobile app is only available on the Apple Store and Google Play Store, then hosting and payment processing is very straightforward since both platforms use their own internal Apple Pay and Google Pay environments. The only time you should consider additional hosting is when your platform needs an accompanying web-based application or CRM to manage your apps eCommerce product line, logistics, supply chain, etc. These third-party platforms (such as Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, Host Nation, etc.), force transaction processing to be conducted securely using secure sockets layer encryption (SSL) or transport layer security (TLS). The cost of hosting varies depending on the type of business model you choose – either off-site hosted or self-hosted options are available, with varying costs associated with each option ranging, at the time of this article, starting at about $75 per month.  We have clients that spend $100 per month for start-up hosting, with other well-established clients spending over $30K per month.

Step#2 Mobile App Design

If you’ve ever heard of UX/UI design, or “User Experience”, you are effectively talking about design, and every smart app design includes a design schema, color palette, matching logo palette, and a deep understanding of UX/UI, white space design and a hundred other factors. This includes a mockup (or prototype) of the user interface, which you can share with potential users to collect feedback. Remember, you could have the best product on the market, the best pricing and the best customer support team the market can provide, but if you have a poorly designed interface, nothing else will matter.

Step#3 Hire an eCommerce App Development Company

Once you've identified what you want to build, the next step is to find the right eCommerce app development company who can get you to market. Here are some tips for vetting potential development partners:

✅ Look for a mobile app development company that specializes in working with small businesses
✅ Ask for proof of launched eCommerce apps
✅ Choose a local company whose team you meet in-person
✅ Read reviews and testimonials from past customers
✅ Interview some of the programmers and project managers
✅ Go with your gut instincts… it’s never wrong

Step#4 Finalize the Development and Launch

Now that your app is developed, launch.

Once you've given your app a test run and are happy with the results, it’s time to launch the technology on the Google Play and the Apple Store so customers can download and begin using the platform.  

Ecommerce Mobile App Development Cost

Estimating mobile app development costs can be a logistical nightmare. Even when you have a ten page or 50-page document that details your application, and even if you send it to 20 companies asking for a quote, the numbers you get back will most often vary by a 1,000 percent, if not more. There are a thousand reasons for this, but the biggest reason is often based on the companies processes. The more experience and better defined the company’s processes, the higher the development costs, but the better the outcome. Other factors include:

✅ Size and complexity of the app
✅ Platform used (native or cross-platform)
✅ Number of screens
✅ Number of third-party integrations required
✅ Scalability and flexibility you need

Your eCommerce mobile app development company can give you a better estimate by gauging your requirements. They can even suggest changes to help you make your app even more feature-rich and user-friendly.

Have an idea to develop an ecommerce app?

At Tucson Bizz, the costs of projects have as much variance as buying a car. Although the primary utility and function of eCommerce sites are basically the same, the function and utility costs are as varied as cars. For example, the cost of a “daily driver” might be as low as $30,000, but a Bugatti La Voiture Noire, which can also be driven as a “daily driver” comes with a price tag of $13,000,000. So, like cars, eCommerce applications can have vast differences, thus vast differences in price. That said, I can tell you this. Over the past ten years, the smallest eCommerce mobile application we’ve developed was $25,000 while the highest was over $500K. Development cost is based on features and function, not utility.

Final Thoughts

We hope this guide provides value in helping you understand some of the steps and features you need to consider when choosing to develop an eCommerce app.

Tucson Bizz is an eCommerce app development company serving Tucson and surrounding counties. We work with start-ups and well-established small businesses (with less than 200 employees) from around the country. We have developed mobile app and software applications for large corporations and even a few Fortune 500 firms, but 95% of our projects are within the small business community. For more information, contact our office or call me directly at 623-845-2747.

You may also like to read: Is A Mobile Application In Your Company’s Future?

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